Archive by Author | plerudulier

Algorithms Are Replacing Unions As The Champions of Workers

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

[tc_dropcap]Quality of life is perhaps the single largest factor underpinning human happiness, and that quality is largely determined by one’s job. It should be no wonder then that so many activists and politicians have made improving work a key element of their advocacy for generations. The history of America is, in many ways, the history of work.[/tc_dropcap]

So when I look around the world today and observe who are the next champions of workers, I surprisingly don’t see them where you would normally expect. Unions were once the bastions of progressive improvements for labor, but they have been relegated to defending the status quo and are facing serious irrelevance in the United States today. Politicians as well seem almost ignorant of the changes underway in our economy, proposing laws that do little to help people and everything to help their campaign donors.

They have been replaced. The people with…

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The new death etiquette: short, shared, shallow – [independent.co.uk]

It’s a mark of the long reach of technology’s grappling hook that the death of the actor and comedian Robin Williams – to be followed only a few hours later by the passing of Lauren Bacall – should inspire a debate not only about their merits as entertainers but about the validity of the social media platforms on which fans queued up to pay tribute.

My colleague Simon Kelner, over in The Independent, was one of several commentators to wonder whether the encomia pronounced by people with no direct connection to the deceased were evidence that we had become “a shallow, sentimental society”, whose members found it difficult to distinguish between genuine emotion and those impelled into being by the peer group.

Kelner, having gamely confessed to never having found Williams particularly funny, ended up by presuming the Twitter memorial to be rather a good thing and arguing that social media “links us more closely to other people’s triumphs and tragedies. It gives us a sense of a greater humanity…

Whatever one may feel about this judgement, the tidal wave of condolence that followed Williams’ self-inflicted death, appeared – once the views of a handful of relative-abusing trolls had been discounted – to be quite genuine. A neutral observer might have assumed that his career had peaked nearly a decade and a half ago, but longevity worked its habitual magic and for every fan of the recent work there was someone to remember Mork the space alien from 1978. Even Simon Cowell, one felt, was entitled to tweet that he never met him but he just knew he was a great guy.

via The new death etiquette: short, shared, shallow – Comment – Voices – The Independent.

Germany Added A Lot Of Wind And Solar Power, And Its Electric Grid Became More Reliable – [thinkprogress.org]

To hear its critics tell it, Germany’s ambitious push to switch over to renewable energy has delivered an electrical grid that’s capricious, unreliable, and prone to blackouts. But according to data highlighted by ECO Report last week, the reality on the ground couldn’t be further from that caricature.

Specifically, the availability of electricity in Germany was lost only for an average of 15.91 minutes per customer in 2012, according to figures from the Council of European Energy Regulators. That’s far better than the United States, which saw its electricity become unavailable for a whopping 244 minutes per customer in 2008. Germany also did significantly better than the United Kingdom lost 81.42 minutes per customer in 2008, the Netherlands lost 33.7 minutes per customer and France lost 95.1 minutes per customer. Of all the countries tracked, Japan and Singapore are the only two with grid reliability to match Germany’s.

via Germany Added A Lot Of Wind And Solar Power, And Its Electric Grid Became More Reliable | ThinkProgress.

Robin Williams and Hollywood’s illness stigma – [latimes.com]

Robin Williams and Hollywood's illness stigma - LA Times

Medical illness is a strange thing when it comes to Hollywood. Addiction is a subject people will talk about often and freely; there’s hardly a week that goes by without a celebrity “opening up” about their struggles.

That’s far from the case with illness. Nora Ephron kept her battle with leukemia secret up until her death. Michael J. Fox didn’t disclose his Parkinson’s for seven years after his diagnosis. Patrick Swayze continued to downplay reports of his cancer until his condition had deteriorated irrevocably in 2009.

In part this is all for a very simple, practical reason — like many people, a lot of actors want to continue working when they become ill, and everything from casting to insurance becomes trickier once disease enters the picture. Fox worked for a good chunk of those seven years without anyone the wiser.

via Robin Williams and Hollywood’s illness stigma – LA Times.

The surprising democratizing power of McDonald’s Wi-Fi

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Originally posted on Quartz:

On Wednesday, two reporters covering the protests surrounding the fatal police shooting of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, were arrested—in a McDonald’s. Why were they there? One of the reporters, The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, says not for a Big Mac:

For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.

The other reporter in the McDonald’s at the time, Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post, managed to tweet a photo of what was happening before he, too, was arrested.

The two reporters in Ferguson…

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How A Dissolvable ‘Tampon’ Could One Day Help Women Stop HIV – NPR.org]

When it comes to protecting themselves from HIV, women need more options.

About 84 percent of all women diagnosed with HIV contract the virus through heterosexual sex. And right now, the female condom is the only contraception available that stops HIV — and is controlled by the woman. These devices can be hard to find and tough to use.

Now engineers at the University of Washington in Seattle have come up with an experimental technology that may one day make HIV protection for women as easy as using a tampon.

For years, scientists have been developing gels or creams that contain anti-HIV drugs known as microbicides. But these topical ointments can be problematic. They’re messy to apply. They can leak. And the medication absorbs slowly, so women have to use the gels or creams at least 20 minutes before sex.

via How A Dissolvable ‘Tampon’ Could One Day Help Women Stop HIV : Goats and Soda : NPR.

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